In most cases, sharing economy workers are considered as 1099 contractors for tax purposes. The only way you would not be considered as a 1099 contractor is if you have formed a corporation for your business. If you are a 1099 contractor, you will be considered as self-employed and you will need to pay self-employment tax if your net income is greater than $400.
You will need to save a significant amount of your income given that self-employment taxes total 15.3%. For income taxes, your income tax bracket will determine what percentage you should save for income tax. For example, if you earn $15,000 from working as a 1099 contractor and you file as a single, non-married individual, you should expect to put aside 30-35% of your income for taxes. It is important that you put aside money because you may also be required to pay quarterly estimated taxes.
Homesharing / Airbnb
If you rent on Airbnb, you will need to determine if your Airbnb income is taxable first. The amount of taxes that you will owe will depend on how long you rent your place. If you rent for less than 15 days per year and use your property as a personal residence for the greater of 14 days or 10% of the total time that you rent it out on Airbnb, you do not have to pay any taxes on your rental income.
However, if you rent for more than 15 days per year, you then need to make sure that you have put aside money for income tax, if you do not meet the above criteria for tax-free rental income. As a rule, Airbnb withholds 28% of your income for taxes if you do not provide them with a W-9 form. Although your effective tax rate will likely be lower than 28% this is a good rule to follow in order to make sure that you are covered.
Additionally, you may also be liable for state and local taxes related to your rental income. If your jurisdiction requires that you pay Transient Occupancy Taxes (TOT), Airbnb will automatically deduct and remit the payment of TOT on your behalf. While you do not have to put aside more of your earnings to cover these taxes, you should just be aware that this money will be taken from your earnings upfront.
How to Estimate How Much Tax You Might Owe
To estimate how much income tax you might owe, you can use safe harbor rule. The safe harbor rule is a method that is designed to help you avoid the IRS penalties that can result from underpaying your taxes. Since the IRS employs a "pay as you go" system for paying your taxes, miscalculating the amount of taxes that you owe could result in a current-year tax underpayment and subsequent penalties.
In general, the safe harbor rule can be calculated by taking 100% of the tax shown on your 2015 return and splitting it into 4 payments. You can also annualize your estimated 1099 contractor or Airbnb income and deductions for the year.
You must also determine what state, county, and city taxes you might owe. Airbnb provides a complete guide to taxes by city here. Once all of these factors have been considered, the taxes may add up to 30% to 50% of your income once you include federal and state income taxes, along with self-employment taxes.